This statement was written for the #FamiliesBelongTogether Rally in Charleston, WV on July 12, 2018.
As leaders in the fight for racial equity in West Virginia, we CARE about keeping families together. We stand with immigrant and migrant communities in West Virginia, Central Appalachia, and throughout the South. We imagine black and brown bodies moving freely, with dignity and joy, across these borderlands.
In our commitment to dismantling oppressive structures, we understand that melting ICE is a crucial part of ending the criminalization of black and brown lives in America. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy has separated over 3,000 children from their parents. ICE agents are detaining children, as young as 5 and under, in jails and centers across the country (Democracy Now). Parents have only two options: reunite with their children in order to be deported together, or be deported alone so their children can stay to pursue asylum (Southern Poverty Law Center).
We recognize that anti-immigration policies like these are just one strategy in the United States’ continued history of state-sanctioned violence against people of color. From chattel slavery to the militarization of police forces to the prison industrial complex, the federal government continues to siphon money and resources away from the people – away from affordable housing, healthcare, education, and socio-economic infrastructure, toward more division, more supremacy, and more war. This adversely impacts poor people of color; people like us.
As we combat systemic racism, we believe in the power of our communities – youth and elders, black and Latinx, migrant and indigenous, queer and trans – to change policy and create sustainable futures. We believe that migration is not a crime. We believe that the earth will not heed walls, that its people will not be caged. We believe that families belong together. We ask you, our federal prosecutors in WV, to consider once again the weight of a human life: a child living with the trauma of being forcibly separated from their parents, or a child living the fullness of their life with their family. Which image do you see? Which image will you amplify?